Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Instagram Rolls out Live Trends: Competition for Twitter

The New Discover Page
The Wall Street Journal User Account

Instagram is rolling out a new feature for to make finding trends easier for its users. Today, in a blog post from the company, Instagram declared that users will now be able to "See the World as it Happens". Might sound familiar. Social Media is becoming more and more about the live event. What was once Twitter's advantage, is now everyone's ballgame, both Instagram and Snapchat have been updating their products consistently to advance the real time activity of their app. And, if you thought hashtags were exclusive to Twitter, you'd be wrong. Check out the front page of this feature on #Instagram. This goes to show, once again, that there is nothing distinctive about Twitter that cannot be quickly adopted by other services. Right now, the biggest draw to using Twitter is to find out about ongoing events, live action events. Users also follow celeberties and news anchors accounts to get updates, however more and more of those users are moving towards Snapchat and Instagram instead of Twitter. If Instagram and Snapchat continue to move onto that turf, Twitter (with it's CEO on the way out) could find itself battling to stay relevant in this fast paced duel of social media giants. 

Personally, give me a reason to go check my Twitter feed or search a trend when I'm already on Instagram or Snapchat. Just the other day I noticed (thanks to Instagram's fantastic prediction algorithm of what I might like) the Wall Street Journal had started two Instagram accounts. I now follow both. And I haven't checked Twitter in quite a while now....

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Twitter CEO Flys Off

The time has come. Twitter CEO Dick Costolo has officially announced he will step down. After the announcement, the stock price quickly rallied almost 7%, before finally settling up close to 4%. The euphoria was short lived however, as the stock price is down 3% since the announcement. Investors have been questioning Costolo's leadership at the helm for a few months. Back in April I wrote about Twitter's complete lack of product improvements and pointing fingers at the CEO, I said it might be time Costolo departed the company. Though he will stay on as a board member, this has happened. Investors now are becoming worried this may lead to the company being a "rudderless ship" so to speak. Although many are happy Costolo is gone, the question seems to be "Why now?" Costolo could have remained on board until a replacement was found. Now the race is on to find the next CEO before investor sentiment turns even more sour. It seemed investors all over are not content with the way Twitter was developing even before this announcement, with the likes of large investor and former Google employee Chris Sacca writing a long blog post about changes the company should make.

Costolo making a Presentation.

 Sacca is still a long term believer in the company, whereas I myself and having some doubts. The biggest issue right now seems to be the direction of the company itself. When Mark Zuckerberg was supposedly quoted as saying "They drove a clown car that fell into a gold mine" he may not be far off. Twitter is the place to go for breaking news. TV shows and live sporting events will broadcast hashtags on screen for the audience to tweet about, and news anchors and sports casters display their twitter username on screen to gain followers. It has a massive presence for the now, and yet user growth and revenue has not grown even close to what Facebook was able to achieve. It's time to change that, and I'll be curious to see who replaces Costolo and how they will define what Twitter will be in the future. A new vision and new product improvements must come quickly, or Twitter runs a risk of falling to the wayside.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Fact Check: Lebron is the Outlier

The Warriors and Cavs are all knotted up at 2-2 in the NBA Finals. After last nights performance by Lebron James, there's every reason to be impressed. James has been putting on a series for the ages thus far, but it's still tough to see the Cavs winning the series. There's a reason the Warriors won a league best 67 games in the regular season and yet, the Cavs were up 2-1 in the series prior to last night, even without two of their best players, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. That can be chalked up to Lebron James's astounding point and assist totals in those games. He's been a one man team, it's essentially become Lebron versus the Warriors at this point. The news media has taken note, with the WSJ publishing this article about how it's "Lebron and Then There's Everyone Else (Michael Jordan included)". Well, let's take a closer look at the statistics. The graphic below, showing the percentage of team points that a player accounts for with his own assists and points, is what they point to, to show that Lebron is putting on one of the best finals performances in the history of the NBA. So much so that the author even claims that this series by Lebron, "makes Jordan look like a role player." This is utter nonsense.

Let's ask ourselves, why is Lebron on the top of the list? Is he a dominant force? Yes. And he has shown how dominant he is in the first half of this series. There is an explanation for why he's so far ahead of anyone else though. He has absolutely no supporting cast to rely on right now. None. See that Lebron is also on the list two other times, both times his team lost the series. By contrast, Jordan is on the list 4 times with 4 wins (2 other Championships of his not shown). The two finals that Lebron actually did win, he didn't make the list. Why? His teammates at the time included all-stars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Sure, without current all-start teammates Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, Lebron is going to be forced to put up numbers like he currently is. In comparison, Michael Jordan's 1990-91 team won the Championship and series by a 4-1 count. Jordan's partner is crime was all-star Scottie Pippen whom he had to share points and assists with. Let's not take away from the fact that this is a very impressive series for Lebron. He's playing with no supporting cast and ushered the Cavs to two wins so far. But they will not win this series and Lebron doesn't belong on top of this list. The Cavs lost BOTH Kevin Love and Kyrie in the playoffs, if this happened earlier, they likely wouldn't have made it to the title game. Since it happened the way it did, the Cavs are now in the title game with only one superstar left. Subsequently, he has to do all the heavy lifting. Lebron is averaging 36 shots a game. Not 36 points, 36 ATTEMPTS. Michael Jordan had 113 attempts the entire Finals series in 1990-91. That averages to 22 shots a game. Lebron is taking 14 more shots per game than MJ did during the 90-91 finals. So yes, of course Lebron is going to top the list. However, statistically, let us chalk this one up as an outlier, the Cavs lost two of their superstars in the playoffs and left Lebron James as a one man show. He's putting up shots at a rate no one else ever has, and his point total reflects just that. Lots of shots.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Photo Post #3: Vienna, Austria

At a Park in Vienna, Austria. In the distance, an old WW2 Bunker still standing. © Chris Besserer